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Average critic rating : 93.0 points
The 2012 Grands Echezeaux Grand Cru comes from the domaine’s 0.5-hectare parcel located on the southern extremity of the vineyard. It has an explosive nose that at least in barrel, appears much more convincing than the Echezeaux, offering vibrant dark berry fruit, hints of cassis, candied orange peel and minerals. The palate is medium-bodied with very smooth polished tannins on the entry, deep dark plum and blackberry fruit with fine tannins. It needs just a little more tension towards the finish as it glides across the mouth, but it is very composed and long. This is a very competent Grands Echezeaux. ||Just as the Right Bank rarely fraternizes with the Left Bank, so Bordeaux and Burgundy have fostered a mutual indifference, one that is incomprehensible to outsiders who revere them as the king and queen of fine wine. There are odd exceptions to the rule, but I for one will always remember a conversation when one of the big cheeses of Bordeaux had not a clue about “Domaine de la Romanee-Conti”. When the untimely passing Philippe Engel led to his vineyards falling into the hands of Francois Pinault, one of the wealthiest men in France and proprietor of Chateau Latour, there were Pinot-tinged murmurings that his coveted holdings ought to have remained in calloused Burgundian hands, a vigneron who could exploit them in a traditional manner. And if the Bordelais find that unpalatable, then it is exactly the same there. Just ask Edouard Labruyere of Jacques Prieur who had “Go home Bourguignon” graffiti daubed on the walls of Chateau Rouget when his family bought it. And whilst I uphold Philippe Engel as one of the truly great vignerons of recent years, time moves on and it was important to approach the estate, re-born as Domaine d’Eugenie with an open mind and to keep in mind that a Burgundy winemaker was installed at the helm. I have tasted at their cellars twice before. Initially, I felt that the wines seemed over-eager to impress. The delicate, magical touch of Philippe Engel is not something that can be replicated by effort alone. Terroir gives you the quality of clay. Money can buy that. But it is the winemakers’ hands the mold it. Not having tasted the last couple of vintages, I was intrigued to find out for myself how Domaine d’Eugenie has grown, whether it has “settled down” into Burgundy and become part of the fabric of this tightly knit, parochial community. Frederic Engerer, president at Chateau Latour, had flown in that morning as we ran through both the 2011s and 2012s with winemaker Michel Mallard. The winery itself is spick and span, a functional winery with plenty of space to work in, though there is still building work going on. In 2012, the winery was confronted with the same challenges as everyone else. Harvest commenced on 19 September with the Clos d’Eugenie vineyard and finishes in “Les Communes”. Following the purchase of vines from Etienne de Montille last year, the domaine now produces a miniscule amount of white, and when I write “miniscule” we are talking just half-a-barrel for the Meursault and Batard-Montrachet, barely a droplet for the Montrachet. The wines have certainly been fine-tuned since I last tasted them. They are more nuanced than before, partly because of some excellent use of whole clusters, although there is still a little way to go in terms of capturing the magic of those vineyards. If asked to pinpoint something that I am looking for, it would be that abstract notion “effortlessness”. Taste a truly great Burgundy and there is a feeling that it is totally unaware of its breeding and class, whereas these wines just come across as eager to prove their class, as if to say, “Look at me…I am a Grands Echezeaux”. The one exception to that is the Clos de Vougeot: one of the best that you will find in 2012, brimming over with vigor, complexity and personality – a wine that really gets to the heart of what that historical vineyard is all about. eRobertParker.com.December, 2013
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